How Is My Thyroid Gland Affecting Me?
January is thyroid awareness month. The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland that sits at the front of our neck, below the prominence of thyroid cartilage sometimes called the Adam's apple. Our thyroid is responsible for providing energy to nearly every organ in our body.
It is estimated that 20 million Americans are living with thyroid disease, with 60 percent of those individuals unaware of their health status. Women are more likely to have an underactive thyroid known as hypothyroidism. In fact, 1 in 5 women will develop hypothyroidism by age 60. People often come to me with mysterious symptoms or low energy and find out that their thyroid is not functioning properly.
The thyroid gland is part of the endocrine system which is responsible for releasing or secreting important hormones that target organs and tissues to regulate and use energy. Hormones are chemical substances that act like messengers in the body. After being made in one part of the body, like the thyroid, they travel to other parts of the body where they help control how cells and organs do their work. It controls functions like how our heart beats and how our digestive system works.
The thyroid gland uses nutrients from the foods we eat to make two main hormones: Thyroxine (T4) and an active form, Triiodothyronine (T3). It is important that both T3 and T4 levels are neither too high nor too low because they regulate the speed with which our cells and metabolism work.
Two glands in the brain—the hypothalamus and the pituitary communicate to maintain balance between T3 and T4. If T3 and T4 become high known as hyperthyroidism, the pituitary gland in our brain releases less thyroid stimulating hormone known as TSH to slow down the production of T3 and T4. If T3 and T4 levels are high, we may experience any of the following symptoms: rapid heart rate, anxiety, hair loss, light periods, diarrhea or weight loss. If T3 and T4 levels are low known as hypothyroidism, TSH levels are usually high and this can lead to: slow heart rate, constipation, trouble sleeping, fatigue, depression, heavy periods, dry hair, or weight gain.
Typically, if we have a low level of T4 along with a high level of TSH over 3.0, we have hypothyroidism. However, there is a large spectrum of ranges that may cause symptoms for one person while it does not in another. A thyroid panel should be included in baseline bloodwork.
A thyroid panel includes: TSH, free T3, free T4, and thyroid antibodies. It’s important to get a thyroid panel done, not just TSH, along with nutrient deficiency testing - to find the root cause of symptoms. If you can not get a full thyroid panel with your doctor, please contact me at https://www.drfelty.com/contact. I will be publishing more posts on thyroid conditions and thyroid healing. Stay tuned!